I’m not a big fan of roller-coasters, but gladly take my kids on the Big Wheel. They’re impatient, and fret when we sit at the bottom of the wheel for a minute too long as new passengers alight.
Moments later, when the Wheel stops again and we’re at the top, they shout with glee- sure this top-of-the-world experience will never end. Slowly, the Wheel moves downward; they groan.
We’re moments away from the month of Nissan. Over 3300 years ago, on the first Nissan ever, G-d gave our nation our very first Mitzvah.
No, it wasn’t “I am the L-rd, your G-d”. Actually, it wasn’t any of the apparently fundamental faith-builders. His first instruction to us seems almost trivial: “This is how the Jewish calendar works”.
Wouldn’t you have expected Him to first lay the ground-rules? You know- let us know He is in charge that we are obliged to believe in Him, serve Him and pray to Him.
Why start with the calendar?
He wanted us to know that Jews are moon people. On the 1st day of Nissan 2448, G-d showed Moses the sliver of a new moon and said: “This is what your people will look for every 30 or so days, to define the new month.”
G-d wanted us to know what Jewish life is like. Jews don’t live the static, stable life of the sun; we fluctuate like the moon. We have our ups and downs.
Some days we’re on top of the world, confident that we’ll never fall. Other days, we hit rock-bottom and don’t know how we’ll ever come right.
G-d wanted to show us, from day one, that these swings are normal. He also wanted us to know, that when your moon looks like it’s faded away completely- look out for a new moon. When things look bleak, He assures us there lies the seed for new growth.
You only need to believe it. And look for it.
As the Rebbe Rashab once said: “Both those at the top of the ferris-wheel and those at the bottom are mistaken- neither will keep their position for long”.